Session 10/13Page 6/7: Topic D: Improving relations in the local network
Topic D: Improving relations in the local network
The behaviour of children and youth who have been neglected often creates disagreement between members in the local network: the school, the kindergarten, parents of peers, etc. It can be difficult to make all parties find a mutual understanding of the child, its behaviour, and how this should be met. Disagreements can arise if the child behaves very differently in different situations.
Perhaps the child has problems being in close and intimate relations, making it frustrated and angry with the caregivers. It might not have the same problems in school, where there is more structure and not so many emotional demands. Or it may function well in the small environment and routines in the institution, but gets confused and disorganized by the many people, loud noises, and shifts in teachers or caregivers in school or kindergarten.
Consequently, it is only natural that for example the caregivers and school teachers have very different views and perhaps disagree about what the child needs. Also, the different adults in the local network may have different views on the child: ”You are too firm with him”, or ”I have no problems with him, why do you?”
Here, in this example caregivers describes how they worked to make members of the institution’s network understand their child and work together:
”He was always very charming with new people, and he contacted everybody he met – even people in the street he didn’t know at all. People always responded by saying he was the sweetest boy in the world, and blamed us for being too harsh on him. But if he stayed with the same people for a longer time, like when he started in school, his problems became clearer. He had temper tantrums, he bullied other children, he couldn’t sit still, and he argued with his teacher about the simplest decisions. After a while his teacher started saying that we didn’t know how to raise him. This always happened with new people: first they liked him and then they were shocked by his behaviour in intimate situations. After a lot of discussions with us, she started to understand the problems of neglected children, and we could finally work together. We made a plan for how to hand him over in the morning and how to call each other immediately if there were problems. Today, we cooperate very well. He knows that we work together, and that he is protected and helped all the time”.
Another example: A case story about a caregiver and a teacher facing similar challenges when handling the temper tantrums of a child. By cooperating and having frequent dialogues the teacher and caregivers were able to help the child in his social and behavioral development.
“Charles (ten years old) arrived (after attending numerous schools and institutions) at our institution in a lunch break. He stands seething with anger and suddenly yells at me: “You can’t force me to eat – fuck you!’ I answer: “Charles, nobody will force you to eat… if you want to eat, there is food on the table. After one o’clock, the food will be taken away’, and he replies: ‘You idiot – you can’t force me not to eat either!’ One minute he is extremely compulsive and everything must be in its proper place. The next minute he will smash his room, his belongings, or start a fight.
In class, he is met by his new teacher, Iris. At their first meeting, she kindly says to him: “Hello, Charles – could we write a list about why you will hate me today?’ They do this and create a 15 item list. Next, Iris asks him to list how he will sabotage the school lessons; this adds up to 12 strategies. Next, Iris says: “well, let’s start then, shall we?’ For over a year, Charles faithfully reproduces the two original lists. Iris is always kind, she never gives in, she never scolds him and she takes any decision needed. After the first year, Charles has accepted the inevitable; Iris is much stronger than Charles (proved through many tests on his behalf) and virtually impossible to provoke. He is now able to work during class, and quickly rises to the level of knowledge normal for his age. He is revisited to a normal community school while staying with us.”
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION AND DIALOGUE
- Do you recognize these problems in your network concerning the children in your institution?
- What challenges have you met in making everyone in the network understand the child’s behaviour in different situations?
- Do you have experiences, ideas or suggestions about how to make people in the network cooperate?